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August 31, 2018

Paul Chryst

Madison, Wisconsin

Western Kentucky, 3 - Wisconsin, 34

HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: Good to win and get the season started. Obviously to win a game, any game, guys have to make plays. I thought defense did a nice job, especially, to start the game and I thought they were really, really good in the red zone.

Offensively, obviously J.T. had a couple big runs, look at it, if we can help and be more consistent in the running game, but there were some good things there. You know, thought Alex made some good decisions, and extended a couple plays, and those were big on a couple of those touchdown drives.

All in all, it was great to get the season started, and a number of players that we'll be counting on got their first significant snaps, and there's nothing like playing the game. So it was good for the team to get it going.

Q. Do you anticipate going into an opener that you're going to have some rough patches, maybe some inconsistency, whether it's an offense or a defense?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: Absolutely. And what's great about the game is I don't know if you're ever in a game where you're always going to go through things.

I thought our guys kept their poise on it, and you know, even the second half, you know, two plays, three plays, and the ball -- guys kept playing and held them to a field goal.

Offensively, we were doing some good things and then we kind of sputter, but they kept their poise and that, you appreciate, because no game is going to go perfect.

Q. You mentioned the defense and the job they did in the red zone. There were a number of new players in different roles this year. What did that group as a whole show you? And do you feel like they are ahead of where you thought they were or just what you expected?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: Well, I think you're always -- you don't have -- at least I don't, in my mind, this is the group you've got and you go play. You don't have a bar, like this is where you should be and then you've got to get to here.

I thought you've got to play the game and you've got to grow from it and those guys are going to do that. I thought some of our veterans, you guys have played a lot, T.J. made a couple big plays and I thought Ryan Connelly had a huge play. You know what, we've just got to continue to grow, and that's for every game during every week.

It was good to get the season going.

Q. How impressed were you with what Cole Van Lanen was able to give, and you was John dealing with any type of injury in the second half?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: We wanted to play both of them, and Cole's had a good camp. I like the progress that he's -- he earned the right to play. I'm anxious to see how it went for him, and I'm anxious to see how it went for him.

Logan Bruss is another guy that got a lot of snaps once Luke Benzschawel went down.

It's always fun to watch the tape and find ways, you know, that you can build on the things that you did well and find ways that you can kind of clean up the things that need to be corrected.

Q. Obviously you want to see all your players play well. How does it feel to see someone like Taiwan who has gone through so much adversity, how did it feel to see him succeed?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: It was great. I know it meant a lot to him. These guys, they like playing, and when you miss out -- you know, Taiwan stuck out to me on that, and Zack Baun is another one that stood out to me. You know, they got an opportunity tonight to get back out on the field and play.

I thought Taiwan ran hard, ran I thought he was patient. A lot of times, when you're back at it and you're excited to go, sometimes for back, or really most players, you lose your patience and I thought he had good patience.

Q. What did you think of J.T.'s night overall?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: Obviously J.T. had a couple big runs, and yet just talked to him and there's things that we've got to -- he'll see and I think he knows now that he can clean up and go.

But you know, he gave us a heck of a spark. The first touchdown, there was a lot of guys that made that happen, but J.T. did a lot of really good, and there's going to be, like I said, things that he can clean up and get better at.

Q. You talked about your team maintaining poise. You had a defense last year that erased a lot of mistakes after turnovers in the red zone. How critical is it for a young group with seven new starters to have the experience like tonight where they have two red zone turnovers to stop points from being on the board?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: All the situations that come up in a game, and how you handle it, are big, and certainly those were. Like I alluded to earlier, you know, when all of the sudden, start the second half, you know, and quickly the ball is down there but they just kept playing.

And then, you know, I think it was fourth quarter, getting the turnover, the fumble; those are big plays and so you appreciate that. There's always going to be learning that goes on in the game, and you want to take advantage of those opportunities to learn and grow from.

Q. Can you explain what led to Donte's decision to leave the program this week, and how did the cornerback group kind of react to that?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: You know, had a conversation with Donte earlier, and so thought it was best for him. The DBs are fine. You've got to keep going.

Q. You all talk about guys who you're curious to see how they respond their first time on the field. Jake Ferguson is probably not a dominating blocker by any stretch but as a receiver, did he give you tonight what you had seen in practice and in spring and in camp?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: He was good. I thought -- you know, what you appreciate is that he was who we saw in camp, right. Because you're talking about his first game action, and that's not always the case. I thought Ferg was really good there, and I think he did some things with the run game that were good.

Like I said, talk about a lot of young guys, to get those first snaps are big, and then to get them in moments where you need it, I think that's even, you know, even more so.

And so for us to be good, Ferg is a guy who can contribute and we're going to need him to be good and continue to grow.

Q. Kind of in that same line, how do you feel like Jack Dunn and Adam Krumholz did for you tonight at wide receiver, guys that maybe didn't expect a few weeks ago to make this big of an impact?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: I thought it was -- both good. Krumholz had a catch. Jack had a big catch in the two-minute drive, and did a nice job on our punt returns. You know, those two have played in games, but I think the role was certainly different, particularly Jack's.

Then when KP didn't play in the second half, you know, that put a little bit more on guys, and I thought AJ -- I was proud of the way AJ responded. You know, he had the out route that should have had, and a couple, I thought, but you know what, he kept going and kept playing. You appreciate that out of guys.

Q. Kind of going along with the younger guys, the Scott Nelson seemed confident going into this week. What did you think of him tonight?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: I thought Scott, I know he made a couple big plays, and you're going to look back at it and he came clean on one pressure and didn't get it, and you know, had an opportunity. Had a PBU. What I like about him is I thought that was an opportunity to get a pick.

He had one -- he was flying around, I know that, and he's got to do a good job of one -- he kind of missed a tackle, but he's going to learn from this one. He's a good player, and it means a lot to him and so he'll certainly grow.

Q. You had a chance to get Jack Coan in the game late, but you kept Alex in the game. Any reason in particular?
HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, big thing was we were going to end up getting the whole twos in there, and then all of the sudden went to the sudden change on the two and didn't have time to just work the snaps. We were just getting going there, and so didn't want to -- didn't want to go in without having some snaps there -- that was worth it (Laughter).

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